Why did I get arrested at Phi Kappa Psi?

paxus:

Sapphyre wrote this compelling piece about why she got arrested. I was happy to be by her side in the holding cell. My piece on the UVA rape protest arrests will be done shortly.

Originally posted on Glimpses of Sapphyre:

If you had asked me at 9 am on 11/22/14 whether or not I would get arrested at the “Protest Phi Kappa Psi” event, my answer would have been a resounding “No!” While the Rolling Stone article about sexual assault at UVA had definitely caught my attention, I was ambivalent about engaging the issue at UVA. I don’t attend the university – I’m a Hokie through and through (VT ’05). I don’t live in Charlottesville, although I’m often in Charlottesville. I don’t have a daughter at UVA and it will be awhile yet before she is university-aged (frankly, I hope she finds better pursuits when she comes of age). On the other hand, I have been directly impacted by rape culture many times in my life. A lot of my own past issues around being raped came up for me while I read “A Rape on Campus” (my rape was…

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What makes an anarchist NOT an anarchist? – Guest Post

by Simeon Becker

I am a syncretic anarchist. What this means is that, if you identify

as an anarchist, and are reasonably intelligent and nonviolent, I will
do my absolute best to not try to tell you that you are not one. This
goes from anarcho-communists/libertarian socialists/anarcho-syndicalists (I like to call them “Chomskyites”) to anarcho-capitalists/voluntaryists/free market anarchists (whose thinkology to which I personally am admittedly more partial*). I even believe there may be a place in Anarchotopia for anarcho-primitivists, as long as they don’t force me at obsidian spear-point to live naked with them in a cave wherein we will communicate by grunting and flailing our arms and shun the individual oppressive enough to dare reinvent the wheel. But we’ll have to wait and see how that goes.

*Whilst touring the egalitarian community Twin Oaks yesterday, I made
myself out to be a bit of a “that guy” by repeatedly asking questions
with dirty words, such as “Can you BUY clothes from the community
closet?” and “Now, when you claim a community bike, how much does it
COST?” And then everyone pointed at me and made a raspy shrieking
noise before devouring my soul like in Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
Okay, no, they chuckled and politely encouraged me to think outside
the mercantilist box for a few hours. I obliged.

sutherland

Not Real Anarchism

 

I do not imagine that the circumstances under which I first began to
consider that I might be an anarchist are typical to most anarchists
(though, is anything, really?). At the age of 13, I read Alan Moore’s
incredible graphic novel V for Vendetta (and yes, the book is better
than the movie), whereupon I immediately hopped on Wikipedia to learn
more about this “anarchy” of which the flamboyant protagonist extols
the virtues. This naturally led me to explore the plethora of books,
people, and inevitable awkward schisms which make up the history of
anarchism, and at some point in this, the making of a teenage
anarchist, the name Paxus Calta leapt out at me. Hence why it is kind
of an astronomically big deal for me to be guest-contributing to this
esteemed blog. (Let that hopefully serve as my first, last, and only
moment of unabashed fanboyism to be documented for posterity within
the archives of funologist.org.)

V_taking_a_bow

I was extraordinarily fortunate enough to have a philosophical
tradition spanning roughly 200 years laid out before me in digital
form, to be perused at my own discretion. And, since I am for whatever
reason fascinated by all forms of conflict and what drives people to
them, I naturally was compelled in particular by the various conflicts
among self-proclaimed anarchists concerning what, exactly, an
anarchist society would necessarily be and not be. It is
etymologically self-evident that “anarchy,” Latin for “no rulers,”
does not mean “no RULES,” but when one attempts to delineate what
rules are legitimate, how they ought to be enforced in the absence of
rulers, and by what means we as individuals can coax society at large
toward such ends, one will likely incur the ire of no small number of
diametrically opposed thinkers all shouting at each other, “NOT REAL
ANARCHISM!” Especially if one makes the horrendous blunder of starting this conversation on Facebook.

(Tangential to that last sentence, if you are an anarcho-anything,
please do your mental state the huge favor of avoiding the Facebook
group Anarcho-Capitalist/Anarcho-Communist Debate like the plague. I
say this as a reluctant administrator of this group who has concluded
many a coffee-fueled morning holding my head in my hands over
something astoundingly rude and/or insanely idiotic posted by someone
on either side of the issue, usually myself.)

Noam Chomsky

Anarchy Wins!

But my room is messier

A conversation with Paxus yesterday highlighted a perfect example of
such a fundamental split among anarchists, one in which I
uncomfortably find myself slightly to the right of the middle. Allow
me to allegorize:

Mr. X runs A Very Big Smelly Corporate Factory. AVBSCF, Inc., on a
daily basis, dumps roughly 666 gallons of oobleck into the Idyllic
River, which runs past Happytown. The prolonged exposure to oobleck
begins to make the residents of Happytown, well, not so happy. Maybe
even sick, or dead. How shall an anarchist society penalize Mr. X for
his callous irresponsibility? The most common Chomskyite answer in my
experience, which I personally do not find satisfactory, is that there
simply would be no AVBSCF, Inc., to begin with; in its place, there
would be A Harmonious Eco-conscious Worker-Owned Collective (Inc.?),
as society will presumably have somehow evolved past such ridiculous
constructs like “money” and “economics.” Failing that, some kind of
Harmonious Consensus-Democratic EPA will step in to decide what to do
with Mr. X and his henchpeople. The anarcho-capitalist answer, on the
other hand, is not particularly satisfying, either: If people don’t
like the oobleck problem created by AVBSCF, Inc., they should not be
perpetuating it by buying AVBSCF, Inc.’s widgets. Failing that, the
relatives of the deceased Happytownites should sue Mr. X, and in a
just market of laws, would win. And yes, I just used the phrase
“market of laws.” Unless you are an anarcho-capitalist, your mind is
probably irreversibly blown.

It seems to me that, if the general public is too willfully ignorant
to give the logical and ethical superiority of a stateless society
over a statist one a second, or maybe even a first, thought, they
probably shouldn’t be relied upon to collectively resolve, “Let’s put
the Idyllic River before our lovely widgets!” But doesn’t the
Chomskyite solution presuppose, well, a government? Even a supposedly
kinder, gentler government? Mao Tse-tung was unfortunately right on
the money when he pointed out that “political power comes out of the
barrel of a gun.” Whatever their aims, governments necessarily claim
epistemologically unjustifiable monopoly over an essentially arbitrary
section of the planet. That doesn’t sound kind, or gentle. Or
anarchist. Is the question we should be asking ourselves how to
prevent the problem, or how to resolve it after the fact? Is the
problem even preventable? Can any model of society suppress the human
nature to oppress?

Anarchy is a priori. To paraphrase Alan Moore, the most common statist
objection to anarchism, that the biggest gang would take over and
negate the entire concept of anarchism, is literally the exact state
of current affairs. We live in a badly developed anarchist society in
which the biggest gangs have taken over and declared that this or that
area within these or those imaginary lines is not really an anarchist
society, but a capitalist society, or a communist society, or a
democratic socialist society, or a fascist society. As far as I am
concerned, anyone attempting to deny anarchism outright is probably
not worth discussing politics with, or sociology, or economics, or
much of anything except maybe the weather. Maybe not even that,
either. This is the attitude that has restricted my circle of friends
almost entirely to anarcho-capitalists and a very small handful of
very patient anarcho-communists. And even these friends I have a
tendency to horrify/annoy/confuse/weird out, the former by saying
things like “I’m spending a month in a commune! Isn’t that awesome?”,
the latter by saying things like “Don’t you just love the free
market/money/private property laws/the Ludwig von Mises Institute/the
Supreme Court ruling on corporate personhood?”

It is clear to me that SOME kind of anarchist society MUST be the cure
for the majority of society’s ills, but what exactly I mean by
anarchist society,” I guess I can’t say. I don’t think anyone can.

But if you’re not an anarchist…sure is cold at Acorn Community today.

Akashic Record: Sonnets Division

One of the best parts about the Point A project is the lovely people who are in fairly close orbit to it.    The DC Point A group includes Connor who i barely knew before the project but i have grown a deep affection for.  This last evenings meeting was at his group house in Death City which he shares with his sister and several other charming housemates.

Connor on Base after the Point A DC mtg

Connor on Base after the Point A DC mtg

There was a lovely, chaotically structured pot luck dinner type thing which happened just before the Point A meeting.  Part of which was the creation of homemade donuts.  They were in a word, epic donuts.

1604473_10154826253625263_804765325456669567_n

There were originally many more. Sonnets are remembering them fondly

 

The Akashic Record is a quasi mythical place in which all history of all things is being recorded in real time, using a complex combination of high speed digital technology, ancient hand scribing arts and indecipherable magic.  This is not some giant flat bureaucracy.  The Akashic record has a number of different divisions to help users figure out which the most important events are and how it is they are best represented.

Reserved Stacks at the Akashic Records

Reserved Stacks at the Akashic Records

One of the special forces groups of the Akashic Record is the Sonnets Division.  For powerful historical events, when they need something really compelling and rich to capture the importance of an event, they call in the Sonnets Division.

The latest self-scribing technology/magic.

The latest self-scribing technology/magic.

Tonight, for these donuts, the Sonnets Division is working overtime.

 

 

How to Steal an Election

If you have never heard the name Greg Palast, you have likely dodged the ugliest tales of institutional voter fraud in the US.  Palast is an investigative reporter for Al Jazeera America, who used to work for the UK Guardian and the BBC.  In his book “The Best Democracy Money Can Buy” Palast details how Bush and then-Florida Secretary of State Kathrine Harris successfully stole the 2000 Florida election for Bush.

Protests against voter disenfranchisement before the last US election

Protests against voter disenfranchisement before the last US election

Well, Palast is back (actually he never went anywhere, he predicted the voter fraud in the US leading up to the most recent elections) with some of his most damning accusations to date.  Specifically, that a little-discussed voter fraud prevention system called Interstate Crosscheck gave Republicans control of the US Senate.

Nationally, Interstate Crosscheck blocked 7 million people from voting simply because they had the same first and last name as someone else.   Palast points out why this benefits Republicans:

The program’s method of identifying and purging voters especially threaten the registrations of minority voters who are vulnerable because African-American, Asian-American and Hispanics are 67 percent more likely than white voters to share America’s most common names:  Jackson, Washington, Lee, Rodriguez and so on.

In North Carolina, 190,000 people were blocked from voting.  The Republicans took that Senate seat election by 48,511 votes.  In Colorado, more than 300,000 voters were prevented from casting their ballots.  Republican Gardner took the Senate seat by only 48,000 votes.  These two races alone represent a four-seat swing for the Republicans in controlling their tiny Senate majority.

You would be happy too if you could remove enough votes to insure your win

You would be happy too if you could remove enough votes to insure your win

The especially disturbing truth is that this system which blocked more than 7 million votes did not actually find a single case of multiple voting, which is exactly what it was supposedly designed to do.

Cry America; your fragile democracy has been sold to the highest bidder.

 

Acorn brings the Party

The sign of a culturally rich community is that there are more things happening than there is time to do them all.  This often happens around evening events and parties at Acorn and Twin Oaks.  And tonight there was a transparency group at Acorn, while there was also a dance party at Twin Oaks.

KeithHaringDanceParty5I

We tried to get out of the transparency group early – but there were all these interesting new people and early became after 9:30 PM.  But a bunch of people still wanted to go, so we hopped into a minivan and a Dharma Bum‘s car.  And walked in and only the DJ was dancing and the dance floor was nearly empty.

Dharma Bums band comes out of the Omega Institute in NY

Dharma Bums band comes out of the Omega Institute in NY

But we brought 13 people and started a bit of dancing.  Half an hour later, Twin Oaks visitors disappointed by the early ending of the original party came back and started dancing, as well as some members who heard rumor of the party restarting.   We had a crowded dance floor and the party was reborn.  Half an hour later the first shuttle went home. By midnight everyone was heading back to Acorn. Report backs were all positive, glad they went, got what they were looking for.

ilovedance

The funological principal here is if you have a dozen of the right/enthusiastic  people that you are adding to an event (even a near dead one), you can control the health of a party.

 

Dinner with Ralph

“Is that Ralph Nader?” i asked my Dutch friend Peer de Rijk from WISE Amsterdam at the Michael Mariotte award event.

Ralph and i chilling

Ralph and i chilling

Turns out it was.  And it turned out by coincidence we were sitting next to each other at the event.  I have spoken with Nader a couple of times before, he is highly approachable.  In 2013 he was pitching his book “I Told You So” which is a collection of his more prophetic published articles.  He and a couple helpers had broken down their display and were walking away thru Union Station in DC and i stopped him to tell him i had appreciated his concession speech in the 2000 election.

So people write books, others hold various jobs, Nader starts and grows organizations.  Wikipedia has an impressive list of them.  For me the most important ones are the Critical Mass Energy Project, the Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGs) and Public Citizen.  Nader has been fighting for consumer protection and against nuclear power for  longer than i have been alive (Nader is now 80).

Nader create more leaders

In person Nader has a slightly paradoxical personality.  He is modest, soft spoken, crazy smart and opinionated of course, but there appears a dissonance in his unassuming manner.  Then he steps in front of a microphone.  Even at 80, Nader’s energy when on public display was palpable.  There were 2 dozen speakers over the 4 hour event i attended, and he was easily the best one.  He owned the room, not because of his fame, but because of his conviction and sharp analysis.

We are lucky to have Ralph Nader on our side, and even more lucky he has grown so many organizations which are producing so many more organizers and activists to take his place.

A Cardboard “Hero of the Revolution” Button

i realize that central to my evaluation of someone is what it is that i think motivates them.  Sadly, the affluent parts of the world seems crowded with people who have fallen into some type of personal profit maximization motivation.  A “S/he who dies with the most toys wins” kind of mindset.

 

Another way of looking at things

Another way of looking at things

Trying to avoid this kind of motivation has landed me in hippie communes and scruffy activist circles.  A choice and trajectory i am quite pleased with.

For about 20 years i have a running joke with activists, organizers and communards who have gone out of their way to make the right things happen, often at some personal expense or hassle.  What i tell them is that they will receive one of the highly coveted cardboard “Hero of the Revolution” buttons.  Today i finally made the first one.

 

Made of 100 durable cardboard

Made of 100% durable cardboard

i made it for Michael Mariotte who is having a lifetime achievement award ceremony on Monday in Death City (DC).  MM (as everyone in the movement abbreviates his name) and i met in Kiev in 1996.  I was running the Chernobyl tenth anniversary campaign, which included a huge anti-nuclear conference in the Ukrainian capital.  Having spent the preceding 7 years mostly in eastern Europe i was unaware of the US anti-nuclear movement, where MM was a bit of a superstar.

MM was the executive director of Nuclear Information and Resource Service (he is now president).   He asked me to be on the NIRS board and when i asked him to tell me what the organization had done, he rattled off a number of successful achievements in slowing the spread of nuclear reactors in the US and blocking numerous dangerous waste dump proposals and reprocessing facilities.  I was impressed, i joined the NIRS board, a position i held for a dozen years.

 

 

The ED has rhythm - MM on drums with Tru Fax and the Insaniacs

The ED has rhythm – MM on drums with Tru Fax and the Insaniacs

I thought i was getting into a David and Goliath situation, it was more like David and Godzilla.    In eastern Europe we fought corrupt utilities and deluded development banks, this i was used to.  In the US, where more money was on the line, there are all manner of professional liars and propagandists who were actively attacking us as well as a captured regulator which did an outstanding job of appearing to be fair and caring about civilian safety and concerns, when what they really did was protect nuclear industry profits.

 

MM at recent NYC Climate March

MM at recent NYC Climate March

Nobody fights nukes for the money.  The executive direct salary for NIRS is in the bottom 20% for full time non-profit EDs, paid to someone who is living in one of the countries most expensive cities.  And because of the fickle nature of philanthropic foundations (driven both by their dynamic priorities and swings in the market influencing their endowment) there was often not enough money to pay the staff, and MM was proud that the staff always got paid, often times electing not to pay himself on time.

Intelligent people can disagree about the best way to fight nuclear power.  There are two classical splits: Reactors versus Weapons and Nuclear versus Renewables.  The nuclear weapons complex is directly tied to the nuclear power complex.  They need each other to survive.  And they have repeatedly served each other as a crutch.  MM looked around at the many groups in the US fighting against nuclear weapons and believed reactors deserved focused attention.  Similarly with renewables, NIRS avoid putting campaign energy into clean energy, because many groups were doing it well.  NIRS is the only internationally operating pure play anti-nuclear power organization in the world.

Solar versus Nuclear cost Graph

But don’t confuse MM’s sharp focus on reactors as less than a full understanding of the clean energy and military issues at play.  Currently, reliably the best information about renewable energies disruptive effects comes from the SafeEnergy.org blog, which MM continues to write for prolifically.  Including recently:

MM demonstrates a kind of scrappy intelligence critical to low budget non-profits.  I was arrested at the new Exelon Headquarters in something like 2004.  MM called me after the trial to find out how it went.  “I got 80 hours of community service.”  i told him.  “You should do them at NIRS.” he replied without a pause.  Not stumbling over the idea that i should do community service at the organization which created the event i got arrested for in the first place.

MM was also a visionary with respect to Eastern Europe, which is how we met.  He was one of the few people in the US who saw what was completely apparent in Czechoslovakia, that without orders for new reactors in the 1990s in the west, the newly liberated former communist countries were the place nuclear engineering infrastructure could be maintained.  And just as Westinghouse and GE’s focus moved to eastern Europe.  MM designed (with me) and implemented the east European small grant program, he got money from Ted Turner and others, recognizing that relatively small contributions from the west could have tremendous impact in the east.  We gave out 40 grants in perhaps 1998 of $2000 or less funding everything from bike tours, to direct action camps, micro anti-nuclear university and east/west internships.

 

mm, Tanya and kid 1 and kid 2

mm, Tanya and kid 3 and kid 4

Some of the most important reactors in the world in this fight were the pair of units affectionately called K2R4, which were in Khmelnitsky and Rivne in the Ukraine.  One of the most important interns to come to the micro anti-nuclear university was Tanya Murza also from Rivne.  We stopped the western funding for the reactors at K2R4 and basically knocked the east European development bank (the EBRD) out of the business of paying western companies to complete 25 unfinished Russian reactors.  And Tanya stayed and she an MM had two charming kids.

MM has been a hero and inspiration to a whole bunch of people including me.  He deserves his cardboard hero button.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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